Alumnus and climate leader named CEO of Rocky Mountain Institute


Jon Creyts (BSME '92) brings his extensive knowledge of RMI and his thermodynamics education from MechSE to serve as the nonprofit's new CEO.

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Jon Creyts
MechSE alumnus Jon Creyts.  Photo from LinkedIn.

MechSE alumnus Jon Creyts (BSME ’92) has been named the new CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).

RMI is an independent nonprofit founded in 1982 that transforms global energy systems in an effort to attain a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future.

According to RMI’s press release, Creyts, a former graduate student of MechSE Professor Emeritus Clark Bullard, “first came to know RMI in 1991, when he attended a lecture given by [RMI] cofounder Amory Lovins at his alma mater, the University of Illinois. Two decades later, Creyts would travel to Colorado to meet Lovins and take on his first assignment at RMI, a project known as “Reinventing Fire: China.” In just a few years, the findings of that work began to reshape China’s climate policy by showing it could grow economically but still cap emissions through renewables and energy efficiency.”

Bullard remembers well the enthusiasm for which Creyts first expressed an interest in tackling the causes of global warming.

“During his senior year Jon expressed an interest in my membership on a campus committee to analyze the efficiency of energy use in buildings. Seeing great potential for cost-effective investments he assembled all existing data from all metered buildings and proceeded to analyze it. Concerned about the incomplete coverage and inaccuracies in the data, he asked why it wasn’t a priority. My response pointed to the many economic, bureaucratic and political pressures acting on campus decisionmakers. He was hooked and has spent his career understanding the forces driving technological innovation,” Bullard said.

Creyts joined RMI in 2012 and founded RMI’s China office, launched the climate tech incubator Third Derivative, and spearheaded a shit to focus on the institute’s deep energy expertise on solving the climate crisis. He also helped transform the organization from a Colorado-based group of 50 employees to more than 600 today with a budget exceeding $100 million, diversifying its work and its workforce in the process. A mechanical engineer with a doctorate in thermodynamics, Creyts’ extensive experience and knowledge of RMI will ensure the organization maintains its momentum and effectiveness in this decisive decade for climate change, according to their press release.

“Jon Creyts is a marvelous choice to carry on RMI’s leadership: strategic, design-minded, entrepreneurial, bold, disciplined, deeply knowledgeable across the full range of our work, and universally admired for his sterling personal and professional quality,” said Lovins, whom Bullard often hosted for lectures in the 1990s in an effort to inspire his students.

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This story was published November 11, 2022.